Body Piercing and Tattooing:


People use body art as an outlet to express their feelings. The body is a personal canvas onto which dyes and jewelry can be impressed in the form of tatoos and piercings to display feelings and convictions to others. An individual's satisfaction is increased when the desire for the modification is within the individual who is receiving the piercing or tattoo. Administration of body art for the sole pleasure of someone else is rarely satisfying.
For our purposes clients under 19 years of age were not considered.  In most states parental consent is necessary for piercings or tattoos for persons under the age of 18.


A tattoo is a form of body modification in which the skin is permanently colored by ink being deposited under the skin. Body piercing involves the insertion of jewelry through a part of the body.  Considerations must be made as to the placement of both piercings and tattoos. Piercings, although scarring may be present, are reversible.  Care must be taken with piercing because of ongoing care that needs to be done to prevent infection and injuries that can occur because of the jewelry worn.  Content and subject of tattoos must be considered since tattoos are considered virtually permanent.


Businesses that tattoo or pierce are often called parlors.  In some states government restrictions exist to help promote safe practice in application of tattoos and piercings.  "A review of statutes enacted by individual states reveals that 12 states have regulations concerning infection control measures, 11 forbid tattooing of minors, and seven prohibit tattooing.  The remaining 27 have no laws (Martel & Anderson, 2002)."  More controls are being proposed but enactment of laws is happening very slowly (Hayes, 2002, 9).  Even with licensure, the conscientiousness of individual owners and operators of the business is what actually ensures the health and safety of the client.  Before arranging for the body art, one should visit the parlor and make sure obvious clean, sterile measures are being used and that the risks of the procedures are identified in writing.


Piercing gun        needle

Professional tattoo guns are powered by a small motor and controlled by the artist's foot pedal.  This form of applying a tattoo is convenient, easy to use, reusable, and very manageable for the artist. Some tattooers use the older needle method in which they manually make compressions in the skin with a handheld needle.  For piercing, no machinery is used.  Needles are used to make the initial holes. Piercing guns are for ears lobes only!!!  No one should pierce another part of the body using this apparatus!


Risks include allergies to dyes and pigments used in tattoos, metals used in piercing jewelry, scarring, infections, AIDS, Hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases, and broken teeth from oral piercings.  "The most common complications of tattooing and piercing are bleeding and infection (Martel & Anderson, 2002)."  Some psychological consequences of tattooing and body piercing have been correlated with certain self-destructive actions.



Tattooing and piercing can be done safely, provided you have taken considerable time and effort to research the facility in which the tattooing and piercing will be done.  One should also consider how their body reacts to the dyes, chemicals, and metals being used to apply the tattoo and piercing.  Jewelry can be removed from piercing sites, and holes will usually close, but scarring is possible.  Oral piercing is not recommended due to the high incidence of damaging teeth and even after initial piercings have healed, the pierced tongue continues to be a prime site for infection.  Once the application of a tattoo is complete, it is permanant and surgery is the only way to remove the artwork.  Before you express yourself with a tattoo or piercing, be certain that this is what you want!  (Armstrong, Owen, Roberts & Koch, 2002)